A man sits across the aisle from me on a southbound train to Chicago.
He cracks walnuts with his fingertips, carefully checking his digits to ensure their preservation.
I’m not sure why, though, as his hands seem to be mechanically worn.
Probably from fruitlessly repairing small engines, originally purchased to add comfort and ease to daily Michigander life.
The man’s jacket is old.
It looks neither warm nor comfortable.
The black has faded and the white has become grey; age has effected the man in a similar fashion.
His phone, a Blackberry, is chipped and shattered.
His work boots, covered and cracked with salt, show similar signs of decay.
The man hasn’t aged well, but aged he has.
The man sleeps against the window of the swaying train.
Sleep is relative on this southbound bullet.
Momentarily closing your eyes will offer enough rest to endure the last few hours.
There are no headphones, no iPod, no literature for this man to enjoy — only the thought of reaching his destination.
And half a roasted chicken wrapped in tinfoil.
The man counts the coins from his pocket.
His watch rattles as he shakes the few quarters and dimes in a feeble attempt to magically produce more money.
There’s a cafe car at the front of the train, but the grocery bag filled with home-cooked food is an indication he’ll be staying put.
The man now twirls a Pall Mall while looking at his lighter longingly.
A few more hours until he can indulge, but for now he’ll spend the rest of the trip anxiously waiting to disembark at Union Station.